Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Reggie Joiner

Each year I am afforded the opportunity to travel to the Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia with our cLife KidsMin team.  Orange's goal is to bring together the church and the family to impact the faith of the next generation.  The church is represented by yellow - the light of the world.  The family is designated by red - our connections by blood.  When you bring those things together is ORANGE!

Orange was founded by Reggie Joiner.  I am a huge admirer of Reggie.  He is a white man who is using his influence to not only impact the faith of the next generation but also to unify the church.  It seems to me Reggie works hard to make sure that Orange is varied and diverse. 

For the second year in a row, Reggie has hosted a conversation about racial reconciliation from the main stage at Orange.  Last year, Reggie had a conversation with Dr. Bernice King about the church's role in racial reconciliation.  The thought that stayed with me was that if the church does not lead the way in this area, who will?

This year Reggie hosted Lee Jenkins, Virginia Ward, Carlos Whitacker and Sam Collier.  I didn't take a lot of notes because the conversation was so interesting.  Here are two gems, but I don't know who said them (forgive me). 
If we don't confront something, we can't fix it. 
When we accept people as a friend, you have to accept their pain.
There are some white people who would like African Americans to forget about slavery and move along.  During the discussion, Sam Collier said "we are very connected to our past because it is so painful".  I must admit that I used to wonder the same thing about slavery.  Then I made a friend, Rafranz Davis. 

I've spent some time trying to remember how Rafranz and I became friends but I can't. It was probably through twitter.  I've also tried to trace how we became so open with each other.  We can ask each other important questions about our communities (her's being African Americans and mine being autism). We answer each other openly and honestly. We learn from each other. 

Through my friendship with Rafranz, I've learned first hand that racism is real.  The things people say to her are outrageous.  Some are purposefully hurtful. Some are simply not thought through but no less hurtful.  I know these things because I am Rafranz's friend.  And that's the key - friendship.

At the end of the panel Lee Jenkins gave us four action items:
1. listen to each other
2. believe each other
3. befriend each other
4. care for each other
5. stand up for each other

Jesus calls us to love one another.  Not just the people that look like us. Thank you Reggie and Orange for the reminder!

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